#1. Get out of your comfort zone. Do what makes you happy.
This lesson is two in one. Do what makes you happy and step out of you comfort zone. It is two in one because for most of us, to pursue what makes us happy may mean we have to get uncomfortable at first.
As most know, my career path took a big turn only a year and a half ago. At that time, I decided to leave my steady, awesome benefits package, travel to faraway places, job of 8 years at MIT and take a leap of faith on a career change into the personal training world. It was scary, but I was unhappy at MIT and training made me extremely happy. I gave my notice and decided to pursue something I had always wanted to do, but had had a lot of self-doubt around. I thought I wasn’t good enough be a trainer and that it was too late in my career to jump. Looking back, I wish I had believed in myself earlier and taken the leap.
After I left MIT I felt relieved, but I also had a lot of other changes come. I started sleeping, I lost weight and I felt a lot better physically. I did not realize the toll of being unhappy for the majority of my day took on my physically. It was easy to know the mental, but the physical was something I was unaware of.
The lesson here for me is to take the leap to something you know you want to do. Get uncomfortable. Don’t let your brain talk your heart out of something, don’t let self-doubt be the thing that stops you. It took me a few years to accept I could be good at being a personal trainer. I was good at what I did at MIT and I was comfortable. But comfortable doesn’t get you anywhere; whether it is with your training or with your life. You should do things that challenge you both in the gym and out of the gym. If you don’t, how will you ever know your potential? This lesson came back around while training for the Iron Maiden at SFG. I knew there was a big chance I would miss the weighted chin up, but I had trained for 6 months and put in all the work I could and wanted it. I went back and forth as to whether it would be more embarrassing (uncomfortable) to fail in front of 100 people, or more frustrating to not even try. I decided to be uncomfortable and attempt it. I failed. However, I only failed the strength test. I passed my own test to push myself out of my comfort zone and try something.
Try to do something or things that challenges you and pushes you out of your comfort zone. I promise you will surprise yourself with your potential.
#2. Thinking everyone and every body are the same.
Most of my friends are athletic and work out all the time; that is how we met. We all have our workout that we love- for me, kettlebells, for others, running (we obviously didn’t meet doing that) and for some, classes around the city. We all look very different and for a long time, that was an issue for me. In my head, I thought I should look like the runner or the yogi, because we all put in the same number of hours at our respective gyms and I ate better and drank less than they all did. I was constantly comparing myself to them. Looking back, I wish I had stopped doing that a lot earlier and understood that everyone is different and every body is different. Though I can’t run a marathon, I can move a lot heavier weight than most of my friends. But that should not matter. What matters is we are all healthy and happy with what we do. We find happiness in our respective workouts, we find balance with our nutrition, and do what works best for us.
I always tell my clients, if you are happy and healthy, that is what matters. However, your happiness should not be based on what you look like compared to your friends; it should be what your body can do for you, and you only.
Let me be straight though. This is a hell of a lot easier said than done. I have that moment of doubt now and then, but then I remind myself that we are all different. Lessons are not something you learn once and never have to learn again; especially the ones we have discussed here. We must be reminded now and again of these lessons.
#3. Train Smart, not just for the sweat effect.
I love a good spin class just like everyone else does. My heart is pumping, my clothes are soaked through and I am exhausted. I used to do this 5-6 times a week and when I was not seeing changes in my body, I thought it was not because of my workout, but because of something else. Once I started weight training, my entire body changed. I lost weight, my clothes became too big and I looked much thinner. What took me a lot of time to understand was even though I was not walking out of the gym feeling like I had almost died, covered in sweat, I was still getting in a workout.
These days, I train for an hour to an hour and half. I train hard and I leave feeling tired, not wrecked. I am able to train the next day and can get in 6 sessions a week. If there is a day where I feel absolutely exhausted, I let myself rest. I never did this years ago. I trained 6 days a week and if I missed a session, I was stressed and upset. Now, if I miss a day, it is ok because I am listening to what my body is telling me to do.
The lesson here is not all workouts are going to leave you in a puddle on the ground. That does not mean you didn’t get a good training session in. Being in a puddle on the ground doesn’t mean that either. Train smart, train well and listen to your body. Lastly, love your body.